Well, it’s all over now except for the reflecting … San Diego 2007 has come and gone, leaving behind memories, bits of news, photos and a heck of a lot of blog and twitter posts. It was chaotic, tiring, long and frustrating … but I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Some random thoughts …
–I guess the biggest highlight for me was that I got to meet a lot of people in person who I’ve only known through the ‘net. It was great to meet another member of the Blog@ team, Tom Bondurant, and to get to see Carla, Graeme and Matt Brady again. I also got to meet a former Blog@ guest blogger, Cecil Castellucci, and her Plain Janes cohort Jim Rugg. Ryan Penagos gave me a man hug when I met him for the first time. After I introduced my wife to Alex Segura, I told her he was the one who got me into this whole blogging thing in the first place … so now she knows who to blame. Chip Mosher, who is only about two weeks into his new job with BOOM!, had a very busy con, but not too busy to chat several times. The AiT table was always a fun place to be; Larry Young was showing everyone baby pictures, and I got to see Matt Silady, Daniel Goodbrey, Josh Richardson, Kirsten Baldock and Ash Aiwase, and meet Pat Donley, Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, Nima Sorat and Adam Beechen (whose email address I need to find because I need to ask him about something). Ted Mathot, Dan Vado, Jennifer de Guzman, Dean Trippe, David Hyde, Bully and his pal John, Chris Pitzer, Rick Spears and Chuck BB, Jamie Rich, Josh Howard, Ryan Claytor, Tim Leong and Laura Hudson … I know I’m forgetting someone, or several someones.
–We stayed at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, whose air conditioner went out in our building the last night we were there. They comp’ed us our room that night, which I wasn’t expecting. All of their employees, from the bar and restaurant to the bellmen, were all very nice.
–After hanging out with me all day Thursday and being somewhat bored because she isn’t a comic fan (four panels that afternoon on comics stuff and she was ready to tap out) my wife attended the 24 panel on Friday, which featured the producers of the show but no stars. They came in and said they could only say three things about the coming season: 1) It’s set in D.C. rather than L.A., 2) CTU no longer exists, and 3) Jack starts the season being questioned by a senate subcommittee for something he’s done … or maybe everything he’s ever done? They also acknowledged that this past season wasn’t up to par with previous ones.
–As I mentioned in one of my photo posts, she also saw and enjoyed the first episode of NBC’s Chuck, an action comedy about a normal guy who has government secrets downloaded into his brain. That also was on Friday.
–Saturday, however, didn’t work out too well for her. She stood in line for quite awhile trying to get into ballroom 20, which hosted the Bionic Woman preview, TV Guide’s hotlist panel, the Heroes panel, Battlestar Galactica and other media presentations. She would have been happy attending any of the sessions in that room, but after missing the first two and the line hardly moving in between panels because people pretty much camped out there, she left. Later that day she was also denied entry into the Supernatural panel because of the line. I know that Tom tried to get into a couple of panels on Thursday — the Lost panel and, I think, Paramount — but couldn’t get in, and he barely made it into the Superman:Doomsday premiere, which he was scheduled to review for the main site. And Carla was scheduled to cover a panel Saturday morning but couldn’t get into it. Which leads me to two thoughts …
1) There should be a designated number of seats for media who are there to cover the con, so that they can do their job and cover panels. Because if you’re covering multiple movie panels on Saturday that are in different rooms, chances are you’re gonna be screwed. When I was at the Neil Gaiman panel, there were three rows of seats marked “studio executive only” behind me … and hardly any of those seats were taken. Now, if you’re a studio, who do you want at your panel … your studio executives who probably already know what’s going to be presented because they approved it, or the media, who can take your message and spread it to the masses who couldn’t come to the con (or who couldn’t get to through the doors), which is why you’re at the con in the first place?
(As an aside, during the Neil Gaiman session two kids sat in the studio executive seats because there was nowhere else for them to sit. A volunteer came by about halfway through the panel and sternly told them that they couldn’t seat there, those seats were reserved for executives and they were lucky he didn’t make them leave the con. Three rows of executive seats, and maybe six or seven were taken. Now I know he’s doing his job, but come on … are you really so drunk with power that you need to come over and get in the face of paying customers — who were kids, probably 13 or 14 — for sitting in empty seats in an otherwise full room? It was very unnecessary.)
2) Surely there’s more that could be done to ensure that fans who come to the show have the opportunity to see what they want to see. I don’t know if it’s broadcasting the panels into other rooms (or outside the rooms for those in line), or letting fans choose one panel per day where they’re guaranteed admission because they paid $50 or whatever to attend, or even if it’s a ticketing system where fans can get tickets in the morning, first come first serve, so that they know what they’ll be attending and can plan accordingly rather than waiting in the same line for hours on end … but it sucks that people paid money to be there and all they got to see was the back of someone’s head.
That being said, I have to say that after a really crowded preview night, I was dreading what the dealer room floor would look like by Saturday. But the comic areas — from the big booths to the small press area to artists alley — were at least walkable most of the time. The movie/media/toy/videogame half of the convention wasn’t … not until Saturday, anyway. That was the first time I was able to walk down to the Heroes booth and actually see that they had recreated Isaac’s loft. The WB booth was somewhat crowded, but that’s because the Smallville cast was there … and even then I could still get close enough to snap a few photos. That’s when we saw Henry Rollins, Sgt. Slaughter and Andre 3000 as well. And what I thought was a really long line to see Warren Ellis at the Avatar booth on Friday turned out to be a crowd at the T-shirt booth right across from him. I was able to walk up and take a picture. When Roman Dirge was signing at the SLG booth, you couldn’t get anywhere near it. And I didn’t even try to get close to the Marvel booth during the Iron Man thing.
–Did I mention I never want to see another Superman:Doomsday bag again?
–I attended three comic company panels, which I covered for the main site, as well as few other random ones. You can read about the ones I did cover over at the main site, but I also picked up a couple of news items in some of the other ones. Like PvP, the animated series, coming to the XBox. And Tokyopop either trying to get or actually obtaining the rights to do a manga version of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere (this was in the Tokyopop Dark Crystal panel, which had quite an enthusiastic crowd attending … I was typing, so I didn’t hear it all that closely, but my ears popped up when I heard the word Neverwhere and the person from Tokyopop said she wasn’t sure if she was allowed to talk about it yet).
Of the panels I covered, probably the one I enjoyed the most was the Neil Gaiman one. If you ever have a chance to hear Neil Gaiman speak, it’s well worth it. Even though he said he came unprepared, you would never have known it. He was charming, entertaining and also very, very nice to everyone who asked him a question. I sat by a couple of really nice ladies, and we talked about being at the front doors to the convention center that morning, waiting to get in. The doors were supposed to open at 10 a.m., but didn’t open until maybe 10 after. One of the ladies said an ambulance showed up right before 10 a.m. at her door, which maybe explains why they had a delay? Who knows.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay for the entire Meet the Press panel; I would have liked to have met some of the panelists, particularly Heidi McDonald and Douglas Wolk, but I needed to head over to the SLG panel (which had a line outside the room when I got there). I did get to meet Tom Spurgeon, briefly, who Graeme introduced me to right before the panel started. Bully and Tom were both there, as well as a lot of folks who either had blogs or who were comic creators and wanted to know how to get their stuff covered. Graeme said after the panel a lot of people gave him comics to review.
–We left Sunday morning without going to the con, after dinner with Tom and Carla the night before. We drove back to the Bay Area, and what did we see in a couple of car windows? Those damn Superman bags, following us home.